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In Which I Confess the Loss of a Confession - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
In Which I Confess the Loss of a Confession
I just composed a long entry about Radiohead, inspired by my reading more about their new album. My subject header was "In Which I Stray From the Herd and Risk Unwanted Attention From Wild Beasts." When I went to save it, though, my application crashed, leaving me with nothing to show for my labor. I suspect that someone up in the firmament was looking out for me, possibly even Thom Yorke. So I won't bother to write my rant over. Suffice it to say that I continue to believe, despite owning and liking most of the band's records, that they are as overrated as James Joyce.

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22 comments or Leave a comment
masoo From: masoo Date: October 11th, 2007 09:29 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Charlie, meet Nick. Mr. Hornby, meet my friend Charlie.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 11th, 2007 09:32 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I know, I know! But I've been thinking this since the mid-1990s. For what it's worth, OK Computer is my favorite Radiohead album. Even that one, though, pales in comparison with average Pavement.
From: babyiwasshot Date: October 11th, 2007 09:34 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
All the "innovations" of OK Computer can be heard on Can's Tago Mago and Ege Bamyasi, which were released in '71 and '72, respectively. They owe everything to the Germans; then again, so do 90% of all contemporary "indie" acts.

I sometimes fear that all innovation in rock terminates on the date when PiL's Metal Box was released.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 11th, 2007 10:16 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I'm with you there, though I don't think the absence of innovation is itself a problem. I love all that Krautrock. Also, I love Pavement, a band that took inspiration in the Germans and 80s alternative rock alike. Personally, if I had to pick a band from Radiohead's generation, it would be Pavement. The lyrics are better. And the songs have more room for the listener to maneuver.
From: babyiwasshot Date: October 12th, 2007 02:43 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Yeah. All "innovation" is inherently historical, rather than "human." The human brain doesn't change, only the material conditionals it has to work with do. "Progress" isn't human, but historical.

Hah. I initially wrote a protracted response to this before realizing that I was effectively recapitulating and "writing through" the concept of historical materialism. In any case, it was helpful because it gave me content for a didactic entry; with any luck, it may elucidate the concept of cultural materialism to those who aren't already in the know, provided people read my journal, that is.

As for something relevant to the topic of discussion: it's sad how media coverage of indie acts that rose to prominence in the late 90's eclipse the exposure that bands like pavement, polvo, june of 44, etc. get. The media is the best tool for erasing history: while it has you focusing on one thing, there's something truly significant that you're not focusing on--non-identity.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 12th, 2007 03:26 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
That's an excellent point about the effect that the Interpol-era alternative rock renaissance had on the previous generation. Thanks to the reissues, I don't think Pavement has suffered nearly as much as other comparable bands. Or ones like June of 44 which never made it that big, but are eminently worthy. I'm really into the Louisville lineage, from Squirrel Bait and Slint up through Will Oldham's many guises. It's a great place for the music I love, loving music that's all over the place.
abominari From: abominari Date: October 12th, 2007 04:03 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
It's good to get in a habit of using CTRL+C to safeguard your data even before saving. While this won't save you from losing data in a full-scale computer crash, at the very least you'll still have it around should your document/internet program bite the big one.

With as much writing as you do, though, I'm surprised that your program/browser doesn't have a data recovery feature.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 12th, 2007 06:16 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
The LJ client I use is the problem. It's great, but bare bones. You're right. I just need to be more careful about cutting my progress and pasting it elsewhere.

Good to hear from you, BTW. I love your icon.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 12th, 2007 07:14 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I guess I'm officially embarrassed to admit that I like both Radiohead and James Joyce.

::hangs head in shame::
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 12th, 2007 03:17 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I like them too! I like Joyce a lot, in fact. And there are certain Radiohead songs that I'm always happy to hear, like "Karma Police" and "Creep." I was speaking more about overrating, not meaning to say that they aren't good, as I detail in my reply below.
celebrian_3 From: celebrian_3 Date: October 12th, 2007 07:17 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
That anonymous comment actually was inadvertent, and not me hiding behind it . . .
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 12th, 2007 03:15 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
When I do that on a journal that screens anonymous comments, I just delete the first and repost. Just hit the back button on your browser.

As you will see above, I like both Radiohead and Joyce. I like Joyce a lot, in fact. I just think that they both inspire a cultish devotion that exceeds the bounds of their achievement. In Joyce's case, I'm not disputing that he was a literary genius, by any means. I simply think that his devotees overrate relative to other great writers. For the Joyceans I've known, it sometimes seems like no other twentieth-century literature of consequence exists. And for the Radioheadians I've known, it sometimes seems like no other smart alternative rock exists.
celebrian_3 From: celebrian_3 Date: October 13th, 2007 05:27 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Since I fall into neither of those categories, being entirely too fickle and wayward to be a unilateral devotee of any one musician or writer, I hereby retract my shame :-).

OKComputer is also my favorite Radiohead album. I think it's the classic favorite--the seminal album for the group, even.

I didn't realize you could hit the back button and get back to the comment to delete it. Thanks for the tip!
macaroniprotest From: macaroniprotest Date: October 12th, 2007 04:51 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Being probably a member of said herd, I would advise you to make a more distinctive header as there are many people (though probably not on p4k) who would agree wholeheartedly with you.

[Insert defense of Radiohead.]

[Insert defense of James Joyce.]

[Insert defense of Nick Hornby.]

[Insert defense of Sufjan Stevens.] (Old habits die hard.)
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 12th, 2007 05:24 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
But I don't want to troll for Radiohead bashers. I like Radiohead. I just don't like them that much. What annoys me is not the band or its music, but the reception they are accorded. In that respect, their base reminds me of the Joyceans I've known, so keen on asserting the specialness of the object of their devotion that they lose sight of other artists. Does that make sense?

Nice to hear from you, BTW.
macaroniprotest From: macaroniprotest Date: October 12th, 2007 06:28 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Re "nice to hear from you" ... It's nice when people notice me lurking.

1)Well, mutual appreciation time: I like the tone of your posts, you're definitely not a bad writer, and you're one of the few bloggers who don't make me angry intermittently. But oftentimes I don't quite feel I have the intellectual prowess to join some of these discussions that you spark. And you've got an interesting blogroll.

2)You wouldn't be trolling ... Radiohead bashers come at will. Apart from interviews w/ the band I've mostly been trying to stay away from all the major music sites to enjoy the new songs in peace, but it's hard to avoid if both NPR and the New York Times are using the story to communicate their coolness.

3)I'm almost willing to forgive Pitchfork because they have the "love", as it were -- not the kind of thing that consists of insisting on how "innovative" and important Radiohead are but the one where a bunch of people grew up on a band and find it impossible to let go of the centrality of their aesthetic in their lives. Radiohead are like one of two bands that color their judgment on every single rock musician that came afterward (the other being ... Pavement!).

4)The band has never insisted on calling themselves new or different (although they have often said that they were tired of rock music, they've always been pretty forthcoming about the electronic and jazz influences, though oddly enough not specifically krautrock). It's sad that this is how they're written up because it projects a lot of unnecessary baggage onto the music when most of the fans that I've encountered love them for the same reasons that most people love any rock band -- they can relate, they love the lyrics, they find the music beautiful etc. We're all a bunch of Millennial Deadheads and Oct. 10 was like a giant listening party. But the "love" doesn't really prevent them from appreciating other music: some of the members of my Radiohead circle are also very big fans of Black Flag, Smashing Pumpkins, David Byrne, the Liars, Will Oldham, Slint, Low, Mountain Goats, the aforementioned Mr. Stevens, Bowie, Eno, Joy Division, and Can. And Pavement! Finally ...

5) Are you really gonna compare Radiohead and Pavement? They sound very little alike. Admittedly, I haven't listened to Pavement to the extent that I've listed to Radiohead but other than the R.E.M. thing ... even then I don't really see it in Radiohead's music.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 12th, 2007 09:17 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I spend too much time noticing, I think. Hell, I read everything on my "Friends" page, which is a lot. But I especially look for non-regular commenters, as you might expect.

Anyway, I'm at work, so I can't respond at the length I'd like. But I was thinking about Pavement and Radiohead together for the the Pitchfork-related reason you so beautifully describe. Oh, and the fact that both bands take apart song structures. They produce ruins in advance.
macaroniprotest From: macaroniprotest Date: October 15th, 2007 05:20 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Did you see the review?

It's hardly deserved, but it represents why I've mostly been willing to forgive the writers on the site for every single excessive, pseudo-intellectual, badly structured wank-fest that make up 90% of their reviews. At least half the staff love the band so much they can hardly see straight and this time around they weren't even trying.

Also, if you take a look at all their number one albums for the last seven years you'll see a preponderance of moody, well-crafted and intricate rock/electronic music.
letter_2elise From: letter_2elise Date: October 12th, 2007 05:52 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Hmmmm. I really need to download their new album because I've heard all kinds of crazy (not terribly positive) things about it.

As you may recall - or maybe not - I never did get Pavement. I have read about why they are supposed to be incredible and I have certainly heard your explanations - and I admit that I still don't get it. But I respect your appreciation of them. God knows I love a few artists that I know are overrated but I LOVE them just the same. (Yes I've seen Barry Manilow several times - and every song is a show stopper that leaves little old ladies screaming and crying. Always a good time!)

Craig worships the "Manchester sound" - and while I LOVE Joy Division, that's about it for me. The Happy Mondays and so many more are just painful. Another thing I'll never get.

Anyway, aside from my ramble, what I meant to say is that the Radiohead show you and I went to many years ago was incredible. I don't know about their new album, but I would love the chance to see them again. If Spiritualized opens again, I'm there...
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 12th, 2007 08:56 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Yes, I know that Pavement is also one of those bands that some are hopelessly devoted to and others just don't get. Radiohead is a lot more popular and has gotten way more attention in the mainstream media. But Pavement is probably just as revered by critics. The thing about Pavement for me, ultimately, is the quality of the lyrics and the manner of their delivery. Ironically, enough, given that my entry was daring to suggest that James Joyce is overrated -- a dangerous claim in these parts -- what makes them great is their transposition of a word-mad Joycean sensibility to rock music. REM lyrics are like that, too, of course, but I think Pavement went further down the path that leads, if not to nonsense, then to beyondsense. Anyway, it's funny that you commented about Pavement, because the original entry I'd composed was this long and -- at least for me -- risky rant about why Pavement is better than Radiohead!

Like Craig, I'm really into Manchester as a concept, from Warsaw to The Fall to The Smiths to The Happy Mondays. And Sheffield, too. There's a great documentary about the Sheffield music scene of the mid-1970s to early 1980s that shows how it promoted experimentation with what we now call "electronica" right as punk was huge in New York and London. It's worth checking out. I can't remember the title, but if you e-mail me your address I'll send it to you.

As for that Radiohead show -- that was at the Bill Graham Civic, right? -- it truly was awesome. I think I remember you saying to me or me saying to you that they were destined to become the next U2, which kind of happened, if not from a sales standpoint, then certainly from a status standpoint. And Spiritualized: Yes! I still remember driving over to the Lincoln Road Safeway in Vallejo with that CD playing in the hatch area-mounted CD player of your Golf. Sigh. That was long ago and probably not an era that you are keen to relive. But I sure remember it fondly, champagne and all.
jstgerma From: jstgerma Date: October 12th, 2007 09:32 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Screw Pitchfork!

Radiohead was better with guitars.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 12th, 2007 09:36 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: Screw Pitchfork!

OK Computer remains my favorite album of theirs. I play Kid A and Amnesiac, but less often.

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